Sunday, 26 January 2014

Baby Jogger 2

Back in 2012, I had the idea that I would like to try buggy running with my daughter. Looking around at the prices quickly ruled out the option of buying a brand new one, so I started looking around for a second-hand option. Eventually I put out a call for help on Twitter, which lead to the acquisition of a Baby Jogger 2.

baby jogger 2

Design / Frame

The Baby Jogger was designed in 1984 to solve the problem of parents that wanted to jog but also had a toddler in tow. It sports an aerodynamic v shaped design and large (for a buggy) wheels. Its lightweight aluminium tubing frame helps to keep the weight minimal. The buggy is suitable for children from 6 months of age and will remain suitable until they grow out of it - this is usually around the age of 5, but varies from child to child. I'm not which year mine was manufactured, but it is an older model of running buggy. Judging by the colourway and the likely number of former owners, I would take a guess and say that this was produced in the 1990's.

Wheels / Tyres

The buggy sits on three bicycle-style wheels which give the buggy an incredibly smooth ride. The tyres on mine are what I'd describe as hybrid-style tyres which are amazing on smooth tarmac, but will easily also handle grass, trail and even thick sticky mud (but it's hard work). They are fixed in position and do not swivel.

Brake

There is a single hand brake lever located on the handle which connects, via a cable, to the brake which is housed on the front wheel - it is basically a bicycle brake. The handle also has a moveable switch which locks the brake should you want to ensure that the buggy doesn't roll away whilst in a parked position. The brake lever is central on the handle which means the brake is close by but not in the way during the run. I have never felt the need to use the brake whilst running and use it purely when stationary.

footrest / brake / seat and five-point harness

Seat and Harness

Before setting off on a run, you will want to ensure that your child is safely secured inside the buggy. The buggy comes with an adjustable 5 point safety harness which secures them inside very well. The straps that go over the shoulders can be adjusted as your child grows to ensure they are held in place safely and comfortably. There is also a fixed hard plastic footrest.

The seat is made from a water resistant canvas material and is narrow and snug, which is good as it helps to secure the child in place and prevents them from moving from side to side as you run around corners. It is a simple canvas material seat suspended between the frame. There are no additional creature comforts such as an option to change the seat position or additional padding on this seat.

Wrist Strap (for safety)

Once ready to go, you can place your wrist through the wrist strap to ensure that the buggy does not roll away from you, say, on a downhill section of your route. I'd definitely recommend using it during every run.

Luggage / pockets

There are two separate compartments for storing any items you have during your run. At the back, behind the seat and under the handle is a sizeable net and underneath the seat there is a further storage space. Handy if you are going to be out for a while you might need to take some nappies and other assorted baby things. I imagine that on a normal run you'd probably leave them empty to avoid carrying any excess weight. Of course purposefully adding extra weight could be another useful training option.


Hood

The buggy comes with a hood (but not attached in the photos), like the seat it is made from a canvas-type material. I'd say it is more useful for shielding your child from the sun rather than keeping them dry. It has a small window in case you need to check inside without interrupting your run. Mine did not come with a rain cover, but I understand that they are available as an added extra.

My only real grumble with the buggy is the design of the hood when folded back. While fine when you have it in its operating position, should you wish to fold it back, it bounces or rubs against my hand as I run. As a workaround I have removed the material hood, which has left me with the supporting wire-frame structure exposed. Once my daughter is in the buggy I move this forward so it rests just above her legs and is well out of the way. I could remove the wire frame entirely but would need some tools to do so and it would make re-attaching the hood less convenient.

Running

The first things I noticed as I set off with the Baby Jogger 2 on tarmac was how incredibly smooth it is and that there was almost zero rolling-resistance - this means that it is fast. Having your hands/arms removed from the running process is the main difference as far as the running action is concerned but it doesn't take long to feel completely comfortable pushing it during the run. In fact, the design of the buggy and smooth rolling motion means that on a flat tarmac path you can simply let go of the buggy and just keep nudging it to maintain the motion whilst running as normal. It is worth noting that the front wheel extends quite far out in front, so if you are running in a group or at a race you will need to be careful to avoid clipping the heels of other runners.

the baby jogger 2 in action

Turning corners generally involves applying a tiny amount of pressure to the handle in order to lift the front wheel, you can then swivel the buggy on its two rear wheels. The fact that the child's weight is centred over the rear wheels makes this process very easy and natural.

Venturing onto grass, mud or hills will of course require a lot more effort than running buggy-less but the Baby Jogger 2 copes very well in all of these conditions. The hybrid tyres are brilliant in all of these instances. If you are exclusively running on tarmac, you could look for one with some proper skinny road racing wheels/tyres which will offer even less resistance, but for the majority of us the standard offering is the best option as it keeps the buggy an option for all types of terrain.

The most important thing is that my daughter absolutely loves buggy running. While we're out she will constantly shout at me to go faster when I slow down (usually because I'm running up a hill) and when we get into a good rhythm she makes a really quiet but high pitched screaming noise. It lasts for minutes at a time and is very cute. She also really loves bumpy ground and the fast downhills - for her it's like a rollercoaster, so we're always on the lookout for some interesting terrain!

Storage and Transporting

The Baby Jogger 2 has a simple way of folding down to enable easy storage or transportation of the buggy. The easiest and quickest option is to remove the securing pins, which are located just behind the front wheel, and fold it down with the wheels attached. However, to fit the buggy into a smaller space (the boot of a smaller car, perhaps) you can remove the wheels completely. The front wheel has a quick-release mechanism just like you'd find on a bicycle. The two back wheels are secured in a different way. You press the 'Axle lock spring plate' behind the rear axle and pull the wheel out of the aluminum tube. You can then fold the buggy almost completely flat by removing the securing pins from their holes. It's very simple and quick to do. Reassembly is equally as easy - you just pop the back wheels into their holes and secure the front with the quick-release mechanism.

main frame securing pins / front wheel quick release / rear wheel axle lock spring plate

Maintenance

The Baby Jogger 2 is more akin to a bicycle than a buggy. So the maintenance is similar to that of a bike, just without the gears and chain. The brake pads could theoretically wear down after a while, but I use my brake so little that I doubt that I'll ever have to replace them. If the buggy gets wet you might find that some lubricant around the back wheel axle will help to prevent squeaks. Lastly, the tyres - they are very unlikely to puncture, and with such a light load they will last a good number of years without the rubber wearing out. All you'll need to do is check the tyre pressures which can sometimes drop a little lower than desired, just like with a bike.

Conclusion:

Should you want an all round buggy that is also ok for running, you should look elsewhere. This running buggy is the real deal. It does not want to go to the shops. In fact, if you take it to the shops it will clip the heels of every other shopper in protest as you pass them. The Baby Jogger 2 is the stripped down classic running buggy - it's the buggy world's go-kart. Light, nimble and very quick. It knows what it was built to do and does it very well indeed.

Technical Specifications (these are correct to the best of my knowledge)

Age range: 6 months to 4-5 years - size and weight of the child are the key factors, rather than age alone.
Maximum Load: 45kg (100lbs)

Construction materials: Lightweight aluminium tubing and durable nylon fittings
Weight: 8kg (17.5lbs)
Wheels: 16" 460mm wheels (tbc) with double steel bearings and quick release system
Tyres: High quality (all terrain) tyres with heavy duty inner tubes (to minimise risk of punctures)
Max Tyre Pressure: 2.3bar (35psi)

Length (upright): 127cm (50")
Width (upright): 64cm (25")
Height of handle (upright): 97cm (38")

Length (folded with wheels on): 122cm (48")
Width (folded with wheels on): 120 (47")
Height (folded with wheels on): 64cm (25")

Length (folded with wheels off): 120 (47")
Width (folded with wheels off): 55cm (22")
Height (folded with wheels off): 15cm (6")


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